During Sunday’s 30-27 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense registered five sacks for a second consecutive week. Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones — who twice brought down Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert — believes the success stems from the return of key players.
Edge rusher Michael Danna injured his calf in the Week 2 game against the Chargers, missing five of the following six games. Fellow pass rusher Frank Clark returned to the lineup on Sunday after serving a two-game suspension resulting from a pair of 2021 firearm arrests.
“I think it was — most importantly — getting everyone back,” Jones explained after the game. “Everyone is healthy. We lost Mike Danna for a couple of games; we lost Frank Clark for a couple of games. [We’re] just rallying together. I think we have some of the best pass rushers in the league. And when we’re able to have those opportunities, we can get after it.”
On one of Jones’ sacks, Herbert appeared primed to take off on a quarterback draw. Jones was in the right position to stop the third-year passer in his tracks — but he credits those who were around him on the play.
“I don’t know if it was Frank or [defensive end] George Karlaftis [who was] making him step up,” Jones recalled of the snap. “Our [defensive] ends really well today, making him step up in the pocket. For me, it was an easy sack.”
Sunday’s pair of sacks brings Jones to nine on the season — already tied for the second-best season of his seven-year career. He believes the improved play of his teammates — and a key change to the coaching staff — has helped him.
“I have a great supporting cast around me,” he noted. “A lot of those guys have stepped up their game. And I also have Joe Cullen — one of the best d-line coaches in the league. Those guys helped me be as successful as I am. Without them, I don’t know where I’d be.”
The AFC West has clearly not met the early season hype as the league’s strongest division. While there is still football to be played, Kansas City’s three-game division lead has the team firmly in the driver’s seat. Jones recognizes that accomplishment against the backdrop of the heavy offseason turnover among his defensive teammates.
“I think it’s being resilient as a team,” he said of Kansas City’s continued dominance. “We’ve asked a lot of young guys to step up in roles that they’re not familiar with — and they’ve answered that. [Chiefs linebacker] Nick Bolton has a huger role [than] last year. A lot of guys have stepped up for this defense — and for this team also. We’ve been very fortunate with that. We’re going to just keep on driving.”
Sometimes on Sunday, the team’s dependence on young players showed up; there were multiple instances where penalties and coverage mistakes kept the defense from getting off the field. But Jones sees a positive: the Chargers were limited to only seven points in the second half — after scoring 20 in the first.
“I think we shot ourselves in the foot in the first half,” he admitted. “Missed tackles and being undisciplined — one player out of the gap gives up seven [or] eight yards; a lot of leaky yardage. We were able to go inside and make a few adjustments. [We] tackled better coming out in the second half — and we were able to make a few stops.”
For Jones — whom the Chiefs selected in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft — Sunday’s win marked a milestone: the three-time Pro Bowl selection appeared in his 100th game with the club. The accomplishment makes him appreciate Kansas City head coach Andy Reid — and chairman Clark Hunt.
“I’m old!” he joked. “A hundred games?
“I’m very fortunate to be in this situation. Thanks to Coach Reid and the Hunt family.
“I’m old, though.”